May 16, 2018, started as a special day for Officer Mark Dallas. His son was among nearly 200 seniors who were practicing for their graduation ceremony in the Dixon High School gym. Mark, who served as the Dixon High School Resource Officer, headed down from his 3rd floor office to the gym to watch the proceedings and visit with the students. Mark shared a close bond with this particular graduating class, as they started high school the same year that Mark had joined the school as the Resource Officer. He had also coached many students in football and track.
After leaving the gym, Mark stopped by the office of the Athletic Director, Jared Shaner. That’s when he heard several gunshots in the hallway. He immediately ran towards the gunshots and found the shooter, just steps from the gym entrance where 182 students stood behind those doors. When Mark engaged the attacker, he took off running and exited the school. Mark pursued the shooter, who turned and fired at him. Mark quickly returned fire, struck the shooter in the shoulder and apprehended him. The shooter was later identified as a Dixon High School senior.
Once it was over, Mark could not believe that were no injuries, stating, “I thought I was being lied [to] for a while, when they assured me that no one was hurt.”
On that day, Mark’s 20 years of experience and training as a police officer played an important role in his ability to protect the students and staff. He recalls not being worried about being shot. Mark’s goal was to protect the students and to capture the shooter. Mark added, “I feel like a parent to 182 kids. The kids that were all in there.”
Mark is also graduate of Dixon High School and never imagined that something like this could happen in this close-knit community, particularly at his alma mater.
Mark is two years away from retirement, and after the violent event that took place in the school, he plans to train other school resource officers in the area. He has also been working with state officials, to make funding available to communities that cannot afford to hire officers for schools.
When asked if he considers himself a hero, Mark reiterates that he was doing his job and adds, “There are heroes every day in our job, people never realize what law enforcement does for their communities. The officers that lose their lives, they are true heroes.”
The Law Enforcement Award is presented to a professional police officer(s) or related law enforcement official(s) who exhibited heroism either in response to an emergency situation or through an ongoing commitment to the community.
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